In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Bilingual Bicultural Education / 91 A particularly disturbing element of these materials is that the orthographic system that has been official in Guatemala since 1987 is not used.Instead,spellings follow the haphazard representations found in early translations of Mayan histories or the transliteration to near-Spanish used from the late 1940s until 1987, when the unified alphabet was approved by Congress. K’iche’ is written as Quiché. The culture hero Q’ukumätz becomes Gucumatz. Again, these are problems that the translation team can fix, by spelling the forms correctly , but the Spanish version, complete with errors, was to be distributed to the many urban classrooms without a majority Mayan population or with no dominant Mayan language, leaving Spanish as the lingua franca across a polyglot student body. The list of “impertenencias culturales” was duly forwarded up the administrative chain, reaching the director of DIGEBI, Raxche’ Demetrio Rodríguez Guaján. He then spoke with his counterpart in SIMAC.The word soon came back down the line.We could change nothing.The translations had to be exact renderings of the Spanish, and the Spanish would not change. Luckily, not everything can be expressed in translation. However, the structure and content of the lessons still presuppose a western European cultural base. The respect offered Mayan culture is a nod to a historic past, a patrimony, rather than an ongoing vibrant element in the national society. Now, in 2006, the new curriculum has been implemented. Bilingual education materials have been distributed to rural (read indigenous) schools, but teachers are often non-speakers or semi-speakers of the languages, unable to use indigenous-language readers. The indigenous-language autodidactic CDs plus Discmans, which were to be distributed to non-Mayan teachers and to Mayan teachers who were not fluent in the language of their school community , never got beyond promotional distribution to AID, the U.S. embassy, UNICEF, and a few of the regional education directors. However, there has been a sea change in the attitude of most rural teachers. Semi-speakers lament their lack of fluency in Mayan languages and are seeking aid on their own to improve their language skills, often with the express goal of being posted in their hometowns. Ladinos express regret at not having the language skills.The principals of many schools within the Kaqchikel-dominant departments have lobbied the regional directors for more and better language training as part of their in-service programming. The scars of genocide still lie on the land. Huge population shifts have occurred , both directly and indirectly related to the war. Large numbers of Mayas migrated to the capital throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Those who fled napalm, death squads, and civil patrols to lose themselves in the capital generally tried to erase the outer markers of their ethnicity. Most did not teach their mother tongue to their children. The children of these internal refugees are just now receiving attention from DIGEBI. Before stepping down as di- 92 / Maxwell rector, Raxche’ Demetrio Rodríguez Guaján began a pilot study of teaching Kaqchikel to monolingual Spanish-speaking children of Kaqchikel descent. The methodologies and materials used with bilingual and first-language Kaqchikel children proved ineffective, and a new vocational training for teachers and materials developers was outlined, though not yet implemented. Similarly,a large area (1,575 square kilometers) in the Department of Quiché was designated as a municipality for returning external refugees and for internally displaced refugees who had not found safe havens.This municipality, Ixc án, is multilingual and multicultural. Nine Mayan language groups are intermixed within Ixcán, and 70 percent of the inhabitants retain native fluency in indigenous languages. Bilingual education in the area is hampered by the admixture of multiple languages in single classrooms. Teachers have no training in dealing with multilingual classes and so revert to monolingual Spanish instruction , though penalties for the use of Mayan languages on school grounds are not the Draconian punishments the parents of this generation of students experienced. Education within Ixcán is largely limited to primary school education , though not all communities have access to even these first grades. Official estimates place the illiteracy rate at 47 percent within this district. For most Guatemalan grade school children today, the war is the stuff of their parents’ nightmares, not part of their lived reality. But the war has inevitably shaped that reality. For some children, it was the war that brought their families to their current community; it was the war...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.